Sunday, August 28, 2011

Normalcy Bias, Hurricanes and other Disasters

Not many people know what Normalcy Bias is or even that almost all of us are guilty of it.  Normalcy Bias is a mental state that many people enter when facing a disaster or crisis.  This is what happens when people underestimate the possibility of a disaster occurring and the possible effects.  Lets explore this a little bit.  We strive to keep things normal.  "It would never happen here, to us".  We tell ourselves this to keep from dealing with possibilities we are not comfortable with. 

There have been numerous examples of this just within the last decade. 

September 11th - A terrorist attack on U.S. soil? That would never happen here.

Hurricane Katrina - The levees would never fail, not here. 

The current financial crisis - Our Government would never let that happen, not here.

No one believed any of these things could actually happen.  So when they did, many were caught off guard and unaware.  While there may have been a plan in place, how many went along with the plan right away?  Stress adds to this problem.  During a major event, many people are often dumbfounded and adding stress to the situation, it takes even longer to come up with a solution.  Just look at how many people die each year from storms simply because they do not heed the warnings to evacuate.  "It can't possibly be bad enough for me to have to leave my home, right?"  Then something happens that no one thought was possible (like a levee failure) and you have thousands that should have been spared, if they only thought of the possibilities. 

We all need to take more care full consideration of our own surroundings.  If your home has a few tall trees around it and there is a big storm, you HAVE to be prepared for a tree to fall and land on your home.  We don't want to think about that actually happening but we have to be aware that it COULD happen and have a plan in place should it happen.  Most of us have band-aids in our house.  Why?  In case we get a cut, right?  Why do we not plan for other things in the same way?  We could spend all day, every day, thinking about what could happen to us in any given situation but we should have something in place to help us make better decisions in the event something happening. 

Its not feasible for every family to build a bomb shelter but it is to have a store of food and water readily available.  For what? For anything!  I live here in Washington State and we are very prone to earthquakes.  How many families are prepared for one?  Not many.  Why?  Normalcy Bias.  It couldn't happen here, not to us.  We have been warned many many times and yet few of us are ready for the aftermath.  I don't want to stand in line at the local grocery store with a panicky mob that is grabbing anything they can simply because they turned a blind eye to the warnings.  Having some food and water stashed away for such an event will greatly lower the stress level for you and your family during any disaster or crisis. 

As Americans, we have to open our minds to the possibilities of the world around us.  We are not "Supermen".  Look at what is happening in other parts of the world right now.  These things CAN happen here.  Look at how many governments are failing and going bankrupt.  Are we ready for that?  Of course not, because it could never happen here, not to us.  We all need to wake up, just a little bit, and realize we are not invulnerable to the problems the rest of the world is having. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Smart Phone Overload, Photon 4G?

We currently have cell service with Sprint.  When we switched over from Verizon we got new phones, of course.  We went with the free ones that you can order online.  We got the Sprint Sanyo.  I guess you can call it a smart phone.  You are supposed to be able to run apps, e-mail and browse the web with it.  I tried a few times and it was way slow and very hard to read on the small screen, maybe a 2 inch screen, if that?  It cannot play any video and will usually only run text versions of web sites.  Of course at the time, we were usually just using the phones as a phone, imagine that!

Over the course of the last few years since switching to Sprint, a few things have changed.  Last year we got the Apple Ipod Touch, to upgrade over the older Ipod Video we had.  Very nice upgrade.  Plays video, movies, pictures, tons of apps are available, oh yeah, and it plays music too.  So as the upgrades have been rolling out for the smart phones, we have seen many of the features we love with the Ipod now available in a cell phone.  This makes the Sanyo seam VERY dated, which it is now.  Its almost a pain to leave the house and drag the cell phone with.  Some days I don't even want to look at it.  When I do make a call, the reception is bad.  We are constantly dropping calls and have severe lag, sometimes when we send a text message, it will arrive 5 to 15 minutes later.  Very annoying. 

As the contract renewal gets closer, I started looking at some of the new smart phones on the market now.  A few months ago, I was set on getting an HTC.  It helped that someone that I worked with bought one and loved it.  Did my research and liked what I saw.  Then came the HTC 3D.  I looked into this one mainly for the performance upgrades it had.  The main selling point was the 3D, but I'm not sold on that for a phone just yet (do the calls come through in 3D?  How does that work?)  But it was a big upgrade over the HTC as far as performance goes.  Dual Core processor, fast load times and can run on 4G.  I thought for sure this is what I would be getting. 

Then, just on a hunch, I searched online for some newer smart phones and came across the Sprint Photon 4G.  It had all the performance upgrades I wanted that the 3D phone had and was getting great reviews so far.  Looks like it can do everything that I'm looking for in a new phone.  I even read that customers that were experiencing "dead spots" with Sprint, were having better reception and call clarity with this new phone.  That's important, since, like many people, we got rid of our home phone and just have our cell phones. 

I started comparing a few of these smart phones together.  It can be a little overwhelming, especially when you see what we have now and what we could end up with.  I'm sure I'll be happy with what ever I get but I want to have something that I'll like for a couple of years, at least, since I never get a new phone until I can get that contract renewal deal.  So what ever I pick it will have to serve me for at least 2 years!  Right now, the Photon is my front runner.  I'm looking forward to being able to upload a picture or video to Facebook and have it load right away rather then a few hours or even days later.  And to take better pictures, so many awesome photo ops have been ruined by an old (1.3 MP) and slow camera.  Social Networking, here I come! HAHA!